Once upon a time, there was a young woman who wanted more than anything to find her poet, her love. She imagined long afternoons with him, sitting under shady trees and dining from picnic baskets filled with grapes and sandwiches. When he looked at her, she could see the twinkle in his eyes and knew that he, in return, could see her love for him radiating from her soul.
She imagined him in romantic fantasy and tried to find him in the young men she dated. Sometimes she found signs of him in her beaus, but the young men also held signs contrary to her imagined poet, and the relationships didn’t last long.
Along the way, two of the young men she courted revealed themselves as snakes and injected their poison into her without permission. She made excuses for the snakes and allowed their poison to stay in her system, thinking that eventually, it would make its way out if she ignored its effects on her mind and heart. She remained quiet about both of these young men, taking on their poison as her own and allowing it to create a dark spot within her.
That dark spot eventually took on a life of its own. It began to writhe and turn and hiss lies to her. She began doubting her ability to find her poet and to succeed in creating what she wanted in the world. She feared facing herself in the mirror and felt that what she needed was a knight, not a poet. A knight to protect her at all costs and keep her from further harm.
The dark spot writhing inside of her suggested a man who would intertwine with her heart, who understood her dark, sinful soul, who knew more than she did about identifying the evils of the world. The dark spot’s lies made sense. She sacrificed her desire to see the love-twinkle in her poet’s eye and instead, looked for someone the others would fear.
She found her knight. He quickly made her his own. He performed the task she’d set for him admirably; he whisked her away and quickly isolated her from the other poets and knights of this world. He built her a castle far away, allowing her to come and go as she wished at first. Eventually, her freedoms were curtailed as her knight seemed to see her as the dark plague upon his world. He thought that she purposely attracted the others, and said that the dark spot in her soul was evil and uncontrollable. He told her that if she wanted to be happy, he would have to let him protect her in his way.
She believed him. The dark spot in her soul crept into her consciousness. She did not remember that the dark spot inside of her was merely the poison from the others residing inside of her. She came to believe that she created the evil within her by being who she was, and thought that her knight was wise to warn her of her evil nature. She fell deeper into fear and begged her knight to tell her more about her evil nature so she could be free of it. As her knight identified the evil, the dark spot grew large, fed by the knights opinions and thoughts.
Her knight told her she had loose morals and that everyone knew she was a whore. He told her that she lacked common sense and couldn’t see the truth. He told her that the world was black and white and the shades of gray she saw were figments of her imagination, falsely ideal versions of an evil world.
He told her that motherhood would elevate her to a higher plane in his eyes. He told her that by raising his children and staying in the castle that she could learn the truth about the world as he shared his exploits into it.
She agreed. She remained in the castle, hidden from the world, and raised children who adored her. The knight, who was constantly out in the world having adventures, would return home and feel jealous of the bond between the young woman and his children.
He told her that he didn’t trust her as a mother. He said that her children were weaker men because of her. He said that she must be like him when disciplining and speaking to her children. He criticized her ability to love his children and told her that if she didn’t understand his way by now then she was forever hopeless. The dark spot within her grew larger as she accepted the knight’s words.
The day came when she looked at herself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the countenance staring back at her. The dark spot within her hissed an evil laugh. She looked into her past and realized that, once upon a time, she was vibrant and lovable; she longed for that young woman to return. The dark spot laughed again, but this time, she took a hair pick and stabbed it deeply into her center, bright blood spilling onto the floor followed by black bile that writhed and twisted itself into a snake on the floor.
It hissed, “You worthless whore of a mother! You think that by ridding yourself of me that you can live freely? You don’t know what it takes to make it in the world, sheltered as you’ve been!” It tried to slither back into her belly, but she was too quick for it.
She raised her foot and stomped on the snake’s head, crushing its bones beneath her heel and grinding them into mush on the floor. The snake flopped for a little while as it realized its control over her was ended.
She felt empty and wondered what would replace the dark spot. But she didn’t have to wonder for long. Hearing the commotion, her children ran to her and their love and innocence and courage filled the hole, mending the wound, stopping the bleeding, and fusing life into her soul.
She knew the love they gave her was borrowed; eventually she would have to develop her own way of loving and being. But for now, she could borrow their courage until forging her own. She left the castle, prepared to battle with the shadow of the snake she’d killed and vowed to never allow another person’s poison to fill her soul again.
Featured photo by Cederic Vandenberghe
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